There is more, a lot more, to African history than what the past few centuries hold. It is unanimously proven that Africa, specifically the Nile Valley stretch, is the birthplace of humankind and thus home to the earliest societies, kingdoms, and civilizations. But today, we are not going that far back.
The Mali Empire was the most prosperous and influential of the West African empires. It existed from c.1235 to c.1645 and was renowned as a leading trading hub within the broader trans-Saharan trade markets and routes. Although the empire was a producer of various agricultural commodities, it was particularly famous for its large gold production and trade. At its height, almost half of the gold that circulated in the Old Word (i.e., Africa, Europe, and Asia) came from the Mali Empire alone.